Roundtable: What’s at stake for Jorge Masvidal and Nate Diaz when they step into the boxing ring?

Jorge Masvidal and Nate Diaz are set to collide again, this time for… well, we’re not sure exactly.

The fan-favorite MMA stars run it back this Saturday in a boxing match presented by Fanmio in Anaheim, Calif., nearly five years after Masvidal defeated Diaz at UFC 244 to become the inaugural “BMF” champion. They’re strapping on the big red gloves for Round 2, and while its always great to see longtime UFC standouts expand their horizons, it’s unclear what either man stands to gain in the long run with a win (other than a nice boost to the bank account, one presumes).

MMA Fighting’s Jed Meshew, Damon Martin, and Alexander K. Lee got together to survey the scene and attempt to figure out what exactly the stakes are for Masvidal and Diaz (if any) and what it could all mean for the fighters going forward.

1. Why should fight fans tune in Saturday?

Meshew: Because there’s nothing better to do?

I’ve been pretty upfront about this fight the entire time in that it simply has zero appeal for me. Diaz and Masvidal are past their prime, out of their element, and competing for nothing other than your hard-earned dollars. Again, zero appeal for me. And based on their Wednesday press conference, it doesn’t appeal to them much either. Nate showed up late, both men barely spoke, and then they just walked off at the end. These two dudes don’t even care, so why should you?

That being said, if I’m trying to make a case for why you should care, it’s this: this is a perfectly reasonable fight because both of them are old and both of them aren’t boxers. This isn’t Jake Paul vs. Mike Tyson where it’s unlikely to be competitive and there’s a real chance of something tragic taking place. It’s a fair fight between two famous people. That doesn’t do it for me, but perhaps it does for you.

And if so, terrific! You’re going to have a solid Saturday. If you’re not interested but you have nothing else to do? Might as well. After all, it’s a holiday weekend and there isn’t much else in the way of combat sports, so you can do worse than watching. And if you’re like me and have absolutely no interest? Spend your time doing other things this weekend and just check back here for all the critical stuff because we’ll have you covered.

Jorge Masvidal
Esther Lin, Fanmio

Martin: The main reason? You know these guys.

Like it or not, star power and having a notable name carry you very, very far in the world of combat sports. You’d think at some point wins and losses would truly matter but they really don’t. Age? Yeah, that’s a problem from those pesky athletes making millions in the NFL, NBA and MLB. Look no further than the interest in Jake Paul fighting a 58-year-old Mike Tyson, who hasn’t won an actual sanctioned fight in 21 years.

To be fair, Diaz and Masvidal aren’t that far removed from the prime of their careers but it’s also safe to say that neither are at their peak either. That’s why unlike Paul vs. Tyson, this is a perfectly fine fight to watch on a Saturday night and to their credit, the teams behind the fighters have amassed a pretty decent undercard, too.

No one is going to mistake Diaz or Masvidal for a world class boxer so fighting each other is fine versus either of them challenging somebody around the same weight like Artur Beterbiev, who would almost certainly dispatch both inside three rounds on the same night. The only thing that would make this a much more attractive option would be Masvidal and Diaz running it back as an MMA fight.

Unfortunately, with Masvidal still under contract to the UFC, it seems highly unlikely the promotion would give him permission to compete against anybody in MMA much less an actual sellable fight like the one against Diaz.

Lee: Because MMA is supposed to be fun!

I get that after their first fight in 2019, only Diaz devotees were clamoring to see these two run it back again, but one can’t deny that their is an unquantifiable electricity to this pairing. Maybe it’s because they’re both heroes of the hardcore that crossed over to the mainstream in a big way, maybe it’s their uncompromising personas, or maybe it’s just because these two come to scrap every time, whatever it is, the proverbial fireworks are guaranteed (and on July 4 weekend no less!).

No, that hasn’t played out on the microphone or at the multitude of media events arranged to promote this fight (except for one notable inter-entourage brawl. Killshot forever!), and that’s a bummer. Being honest with ourselves though, Masvidal and Diaz have always worked better as B-sides to more highly touted fighters (Masvidal vs. Kamaru Usman, Diaz vs. Leon Edwards) or more verbose ones (Masvidal vs. Colby Covington, Diaz vs. Conor McGregor). Verbally, these two are like oil and oil. It’s just a lot of oil.

A lot of oil that I expect to combust on fight night (see what I did there?)! Forget how laconic the build-up has been. When the lights are shining, these two deliver. Ten rounds, zero mixing of the martial arts, and plenty of fists flying. You want trash talk? They’re saving that for the ring and you may want to have the mute button on hand if there are more sensitive ears near the screen.

These two have been caged for too long (see what I did there???). Outside of the cozy confines of the octagon, let’s see what these brawlers can really do.

2. What’s the best-case scenario that could play out on fight night?

Nate Diaz and Jorge Masvidal
Esther Lin, Fanmio

Lee: Shenanigans, and plenty of them.

As much as I’m hoping to see a competitive fight, I’m hoping even more for some classic combat sports weirdness. Give me a couple of low blows, give me an “accidental” takedown, give me a cornerman getting a little too involved in the match. A straight-up display of the sweet science? Who wants that?

Heck, give me chicanery on the scorecards. Whatever gets tongues wagging and fingers tweeting and podcast hosts blabbing, I’m here for it. And please, most importantly of all, give me an unreasonable callout.

I’m not talking the usual “Conor McGregor, where you at?” nonsense. That’s played. I’m talking Diaz threatening to go on a fast food binge and bulk up to heavyweight to fight Francis Ngannou. I’m talking Masvidal making a run at Oleksandr Usyk. Just go all the way dumb with your mic time. Why not? We’re already here.

Meshew: A competitive, back-and-forth war.

To circle back to the first question, if you’re looking for a reason to buy this PPV, that is the hope at least, and it could happen.

There is an overarching idea that Masvidal is going to tune up Diaz, both because he did it when they fought in MMA and because he seems less washed than Nate. It might not be wrong, but I’m not entirely sure it’s right. Yes, Masvidal clubbed him around, but he also did a lot of MMA things in that fight. This being boxing does help Nate in that regard.

Both Diaz and Masvidal are historically very fun fighters to watch, and when they aren’t it’s usually because someone is out-grappling them. That’s not much of an option on Saturday so there is at least some chance that Diaz and Masvidal get in there and wail on each other in exhilarating fashion. Do I think it’s likely? No, but it is possible. And if that happens no one will be upset they dropped $50 on this.

Martin: An actual fun fight or a brutal knockout would deliver here.

Because Masvidal and Diaz aren’t the best boxers in the world, strategy and technique can kind of go right out the window in a fight like this. No one is going to mistake either of these fighters for Terence Crawford so don’t try to pretend to be a Wish version of him come fight night. Just go out there and throw down and give the fans a show!

When Masvidal and Diaz are at their best, they’re more than capable of putting on a memorable fight worth watching. Of course, Masvidal’s biggest highlight-reel win came from a flying knee delivered to Ben Askren while Diaz’s was a rear-naked choke submission over Conor McGregor … and those weapons won’t be available on Saturday.

Still, these guys dislike each other so much, they could just go in there and start throwing punches like a Toughman Contest and it could be fun. As much as it might sting, the other outcome where one of them suffers a devastating knockout will allow the winner to end this rivalry and potentially set up another lucrative crossover fight in the future.

3. Where do Masvidal and Diaz go from here?

Martin: That truly depends on how the fight plays out more than anything else.

If Masvidal and Diaz can somehow resurrect the best of themselves for a few rounds and put on a barnburner fight then there are a lot of possibilities. Maybe that’s more influencer boxing or in Masvidal’s case, maybe he runs it back with Darren Till with 10-ounce gloves this time around after he blasted the Brit in their first encounter in the UFC.

Masvidal doesn’t seem interested in doing MMA anymore and even if he does, that means a return to the UFC. So a good showing on Saturday could set up a lot of different possibilities in the boxing world for Masvidal, especially if he’s willing to take on opponents who got famous off of YouTube or social media.

Now when it comes to Diaz, he actually has better opportunities potentially awaiting him.

An impressive win over a former foe like Masvidal could help Diaz get another marquee boxing match or even better yet, he could finally swoop in for that third fight against Conor McGregor that may not happen otherwise. Diaz is 39 so the clock is ticking on returning to the UFC and convincing the world that he’s still the same guy who choked out McGregor eight years ago. Then again, McGregor definitely isn’t the same guy he was back then either so a trilogy against Diaz could be just what the doctor ordered.

Anyone want to volunteer to check on Michael Chandler if that happens?

Lee: For Masvidal, he’s got time with the UFC left to run out. For Diaz, it’s anybody’s guess.

I couldn’t tell you what intriguing matchups are left for Masvidal in a welterweight division that’s finally set to get moving along when Leon Edwards actually defends his title this year. The top 10 at 170 actually has some fresh blood, none of whom make sense for “Gamebred.” That said, there’s some old blood returning soon and win or lose, if he wants to fight again, Masvidal makes for a logical dance partner.

Heaven help us, I’m talking about Masvidal vs. Nick Diaz. In the UFC. In 2025.

Let’s move on.

Frankly, as underwhelming as the venture has been so far, assuming one of our best-case scenarios plays out on Saturday, it feels like Diaz’s boxing adventures are just getting started. Yes, it’s entirely possible he returns to the UFC in the future. That’s the whole point of having options. But I still think there are fun fights to be had before he falls back into hold habits.

In a perfect world, Diaz finds that middle ground well above influencer boxing, but several notches below illusions of legitimate boxing championship grandeur. I’m just saying, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. is right there (and yes, I know he’s booked to fight Uriah Hall soon, but after that, he has future Diaz opponent written all over him).

Keep doing you, Nate.

Nate Diaz
Esther Lin, Fanmio

Meshew: Retirement village.

Nah, they won’t. But man it would be nice if they did. Both men have made a lot of money and both are old. It would be nice if they stopped trading in brain cells and long-term health for more money. But that’s not how these things go, is it?

Instead, I think there are two possible outcomes.

The first is that they rematch. If this fight ends up being close or if it’s a draw, then I suspect they’ll just run things back. Neither man has a ton of options that makes sense and that would likely do as well if not better than this one does.

The less likely scenario (though it’s getting more likely by the day) is that Nate returns to the UFC to fight Conor McGregor while Masvidal keeps heading down the boxing path.

Masvidal’s boxing endgame appears to be the same as everyone else’s: a fight with Jake Paul. Paul’s dance card is pretty full for the rest of the year, but Masvidal also has a random beef with Chael Sonnen at the moment so perhaps those two can box on the Jake Paul vs. Mike Tyson undercard, setting up Masvidal to get the fight he’s clearly after.

Meanwhile, it’s become glaringly obvious that McGregor doesn’t care about fighting Michael Chandler. Do you think Conor would’ve pulled out of a Diaz fight over a broken toe? Come on. If the UFC wants Conor back, they need to get him a fight he’s excited about, which I think is part of why Chandler was rumored to have been offered a title shot.

If Chandler decides that’s a good enough opportunity to pivot to, then the UFC can re-sign Nate and he and Conor can settle up, while Chandler gets obliterated by Islam Makhachev and then laments his wasted two years.

Everybody wins!


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Fonte: mma fighting